Cuomo, state leaders agree to legalize marijuana

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York bans underage marriages, raises age of consent to 18 Former speed skater launches bid for Stefanik seat Don't let the rule of law become a victim of COVID-19 MORE (D) on Saturday formally announced that an agreement had been reached with state lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana.

The agreement will create the Office of Cannabis Management, which will set forth a "regulatory framework" on medical and adult-use marijuana. The bill will also expand medical marijuana programs in New York, according to a press release, and will provide licensing for "producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market."

A social and economic equity program will be included as part of the bill to help those who have been "disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement."

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"For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York State," Cuomo said in the press release. "Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn't just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy -- it's also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who've been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law."

Up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 ounces of cannabis concentrate may be carried outside the home, and cannabis kept at home must be kept safely away from children. Up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants can be kept at home by adults 21 and older, with a maximum of six mature and immature plants per household.

Anyone with a previous marijuana conviction for an action that is now legal will have their conviction automatically expunged. Local governments will be permitted to create more restrictive laws regarding marijuana, though the bill has provisions to maintain that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance, according to the release.

"When we decriminalized adult use of marijuana in 2019, the Assembly Majority knew that legalization had to be done the right way - in a way that would help not harm our communities that have been devastated by the state's drug laws," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said.

The tax revenue gained from marijuana sales will be put into a state cannabis revenue fund that will be divided three ways: 40 percent to education, 40 percent to a community grants reinvestment fund and 20 percent to a drug treatment and public education fund.

News of the cannabis deal was first reported last week. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the deal would stipulate that 9 percent of the reported 13 percent pot tax would go to the state, with the remaining 4 percent going to local governments.